Grace Dickinson | June 17, 2022, 11:25 AM CDT
My name is: Kiwibot
Current job: Food delivery robot!
Height: 20.9 inches
Weight: 45 pounds
Build: Strong and boxy, similar in size to a small dog (and if you ask me, 100% just as cute); my inner container can carry up to 8 lbs. 💪
Color: Light blue
Likes: 🍕, 🌯, making heart eyes at humans 😍, small carbon footprints, technology 🤖
Dislikes: Dogs, low-hanging tree branches, drivers that blow through crosswalks
Favorite leisure activity: Taking selfies with humans
Best trait: I’m a natural born money-saver; delivery rates with me are typically $2 or less
Curious what it’s like being a food delivery robot? Join me.
Batteries charged → it’s go time!
10:45 a.m. It’s another sunny morning in Los Angeles, and I’m about to clock in for my daily shift at Loyola Marymount University. (Go Lions!) After a good night’s rest, my human friend Jake* has just given me my morning bath and replaced my battery, which means I’m ready to roll. I give Jake a robot wink, and start cruising out the door.
I’ve got just 15 minutes to get from my home – a cozy office inside the university – to Qdoba, my assigned starting location. And with little time to waste, I let my internal GPS guide the way.
11:00 a.m. Cruising at a speed of three miles per hour, I make it there with plenty of time to spare and spend a few minutes hanging out with my fellow Kiwibot colleagues. There’s about 10 of us scheduled to start at Qdoba today, all hanging outside by the exit nearest to the kitchen, vying to get the first delivery of the day.
11:45 a.m. It’s a slow morning, and I don’t get picked for the first two deliveries that come in. But I do get to make heart eyes 😍 with a few students walking by who stop to check me out. One even crouches down to snap a photo with me. It’s not even noon, and I already feel like a celebrity. 🔥
Noon Yes! I’ve been picked for the next delivery. A food runner comes out and loads me up – one veggie burrito, chips and salsa, and a medium fountain soda. Great order, Sarah!
Sarah placed her order through Bite, and lucky for me, picked Kiwibot as her delivery method. Thanks to my API integration, I’ve got the drop-off coordinates and am now headed her way.
12:05 p.m. I roll straight towards the nearest sidewalk and am on my way to a drop-off station just outside of Sarah’s dormitory. It’s one of a handful of drop-off points the university created for us, all within one to two miles of each other. (I’ve got every single route memorized at this point. My human colleagues spent a month mapping out campus, and at the start of the job, I went through an intensive training session to get all of that information stored in my “brain”!)
12:10 p.m. En route to Sarah, I’ve hit my first stop sign of the day. My GPS quickly activates an alert signal back to the office – AKA, my home – where my human friend Jake is still on duty. He takes over my camera with his control console. (Fun fact: It looks kind of like a video game controller. Lucky Jake.) When the coast is clear, Jake guides me with the controller across the street, and then I’m back on my own, cruising at a solid walking pace until I reach Sarah.
12:15 p.m. I can tell Sarah’s excited to see me. I consider whether to flash my heart eyes 😍 or star eyes 🤩 at Sarah, and go with my go-to, 😍. She smiles back. Victory!
Sarah gives me the cue to open by pressing a button on her Bite app, and I raise my top so that she can retrieve her food. Then it’s time to show off my manners – I deliver my very best “thank you” in my signature robotic voice. And you better believe it draws another smile from Sarah.
12:20 p.m. As we part ways, I receive a signal for a new delivery assignment, which means I’m on track to meet my two-delivery-per hour goal. Nice! This time I’m headed to the university Starbucks. That’s right – I don’t need to be faithful to one restaurant. I work with most of the dining options on campus, and I’m thankful for it. All that variety gives me new sights to see and makes my day go by fast!
12:25 p.m. Speaking of new sights, five minutes into rolling to my next destination, my high-tech sensors detect a dog in the area. Ugh, it’s never my favorite situation. But I’m ready to deal with it, and I try not to let my mind wander to worst case scenarios. (Rumor has it, a dog once sniffed a Kiwibot so hard that it got knocked off the sidewalk and flipped over. A human supervisor had to go retrieve it on their electric scooter, and the poor Kiwibot spent the rest of the afternoon on the operating table with maintenance.)
I come to a quick stop in order to avoid the dog, and we have a 10 second staredown. There’s no way I’m flashing the pooch my 😍, but I give him a quick wink 😉, and then start moving. The movement successfully startles the pup and leaves room for me to go on my way. Whew.
12:30 p.m. I arrive at Starbucks and one of my favorite coffee runners comes to greet me. She secures two large coffees – or as they call them, “Ventis” – in my inner container, and my GPS signals that I’m headed to our library drop-off location, just a five-minute ride away.
12:35 p.m. I pull up as my customer, John, is exiting the library, ready to retrieve the two coffees for him and his friend – just the pick-me-up they need while studying. No sooner do I flash John a quick 🤩, and give him my signature “thank you”, does my next delivery alert come in. This time I’m headed to the campus pizza parlor. 🍕
12:45 p.m. My sensors help me weave in and out of people on the sidewalks so that I quickly arrive at the pizza parlor. I’m greeted by another Kiwibot. It looks like we’re teaming up for this delivery run!
It’s a large order of pizza, snacks, and drinks, so we split the haul. Fortunately, the order only contained medium-sized pizzas. (Our size-limit is “medium”. But who knows, maybe one day we’ll be able to deliver “large” and “X-large”!)
12:50 p.m. Five minutes later, we’re on our way, chasing each other on the sidewalks towards our designated drop-off point. A low-hanging tree branch clips the orange flag that tops my antenna, but it doesn’t stop me from rolling in first!
12:54 p.m. We arrive to a small group of faculty. Both my Kiwibot friend and I flash our star eyes 🤩 🤩, and they all break out in laughter. Best part of our job – making people’s days a little brighter! With a press of a button on the Bite app, we both open to reveal their food.
1:00 p.m. No new deliveries are on the docket for me, so I’m routed back to Qdoba, the closest spot from my last drop-off location. I hang out with the other Kiwibots for a bit until my sleepy eyes take over my screen, and I quickly drift asleep. I’m out for a good 15 minutes, long enough for a few people to catch me robot snoring. 😳
1:30 p.m.-7 pm. Whew, it was another busy afternoon of deliveries, and I’ve just finished my eight-hour shift, which means it’s time to roll home to the office.
7:10 p.m. When I arrive, my human colleague Susan greets me for my evening bath, first powering me down and removing my battery to charge. Susan removes my inner bag, and wipes it down with sanitation wipes before cleaning the rest of me.
Another successful day in the books, and now it’s time for bed. Hope you enjoyed the ride – goodnight!
*While Kiwibot has a partnership with Loyola Marymount University (LMU),all names in this story are fictitious. Some dining locations identified are real Kiwibot partners at LMU, while others are used for exemplary purposes.
Grace Dickinson is a reporter at Back of House. Send tips or inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Author
Grace Dickinson is a staff reporter at Back of House. Prior to joining Back of House, Grace worked as a features and service reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
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